Posts Tagged Cookies

Chocolate Chip Cookies

It’s New Year’s Eve. I’m in New Orleans. There’s a huge shindig down in Jackson Square, at least two masquerade balls, and I have no doubt that Bourbon Street is in full swing. Closer to home, I hear fireworks, and at least one of the bars in walking distance is having some kind of event.

Also a drive-through daiquiri place, because apparently we're classy like that around here.

Of course there’s more than one bar within walking distance of my apartment. There’s also a drive-through daiquiri place up the street, just in case you need a daiquiri while driving, I guess.

This city takes its holidays seriously, enough that even I feel like I might be missing out on something by staying in tonight. I mean, a masquerade? How do you pass that up? Especially given that I own a lovely venetian mask which I never have occasion to wear. But honestly, it’s a relief. There’s no need to caffeinate to keep energy up until midnight, no crowd of party-goers to shout over. And if I’d gone to a masked ball, I’d have missed out on and evening lounging on the couch in purple argyle socks, watching Blade Runner and eating seared duck and couscous.

Ma

I concede that a formal masked ball may well serve duck, but is likely to frown on the purple socks.

On an unrelated note, I made chocolate chip cookies during the insane holiday baking spree a couple of weeks ago. I never make chocolate chip cookies. Really. This is the second time since high school that it’s happened. But after all this time, I still remember exactly how it’s done.

Apparently making these cookies is like riding a bike. Even after almost ten years, muscle memory just kicks in.

Apparently making these cookies is like riding a bike. Even after almost ten years, muscle memory just kicks in.

Ingredients (makes 2 dozen)

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16 T (2 sticks) butter

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1 cup brown sugar

1 T vanilla extract

2  eggs

2 1/4 cups flour

1 1/2 t baking soda

1 1/2 t salt

1/2 t nutmeg

3 chocolate bars, preferably all different

Directions

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Cream butter in a mixer. Add sugars and continue to mix until thoroughly combined.

Forgot to take a picture with the sugar. oops.

Forgot to take a picture with the sugar. oops.

Add eggs and vanilla and mix just to combine.

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Add flour, salt, baking soda, and nutmeg, and mix again to combine.

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Chop the chocolate bars. The size of the chunks is really up to you. I prefer them about 1 cm².

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Add the chopped chocolate to the batter. . .

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. . .and fold it in.

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Then just drop the batter in about 1 1/2 tablespoon blobs onto parchment lined cookie sheets. I don’t measure. I just estimate blobs to approximately the size of a golf ball.

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Bake at 375°F for 10-12 minutes. As soon as they come out of the oven, add a small pinch of kosher salt to the whole batch. It sounds crazy, I know, but just go with it. Salt is delicious.

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These ones spread a bit too much. That’s okay. Ugly cookies are my specialty.

If you’re baking cookies to ship halfway across the country, do not attempt to get them bagged and shipped five minutes after they come out of the oven, even if the post office is closing in twenty minutes. You will get chocolate everywhere.

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Don’t tell the recipient of your cookies if you used a nonstandard flavor of chocolate bar, either. It’s amusing to hear about an office arguing over whether the hint of flavor in the cookies is orange or coffee. It was coffee, incidentally. Coffee goes with nutmeg. If I were using orange peel or orange oil, I’d swap the nutmeg with anise and then never ever share the cookies because that combination is amazing.

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Happy new year!

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Lemon Cookies

Last week I made cookies.

I don’t mean I made a batch of cookies last week, or two, or even three. I mean that last week, aside from the hours spent at the local food bank, all I did was bake cookies. Cookies to give to friends here, cookies for Mr. Blackbird’s lab, cookies to ship across the country. And still I’m not done. I have about three batches to send to Texas after Christmas, a few to bake today to bring to Florida, and I really should bake a batch for the lovely friend who’s feeding the cats while we’re gone.

If I’ve ever said that there’s no such thing as too many cookies, I take it back. I’m not going to want to see another cookie until after Passover. Or at least tomorrow when I get bored and hungry during the twelve-hour drive home.

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These cookies are adapted from Perfect Light Desserts by Nick Malgieri, which is bizarre for several reasons. First of all, I don’t own this cookbook. I don’t own any specifically healthy cookbooks. Secondly, long ago I had a copy of Cookies Unlimited by the same author, and I swear not a single recipe that I tried from that book came out well. But a year or so ago, a friend on a low-cholesterol diet asked if I could make healthy lemon cookies. I said no (cookies aren’t healthy, guys) but that I would try to find a recipe that wasn’t quite as guilt-inducing as most. This one has half the butter of your average cookie recipe, and uses only the white of the egg.

Don’t let that scare you off, though. These cookies are amazing. They’re moderately lemony, about two steps above lemon pound cake but still well below lemon bars. If you want to kick up the lemon flavor, a simple glaze of lemon juice, cream cheese, and powdered sugar would go nicely, or you could just brush the tops with a little lemon juice when they come out of the oven. Their texture is spongy enough to absorb it.

Best of all, they put an assertive citrus flavor (the most virtuous of all dessert flavors) into a cookie form. This means that I could ship them to my lemon-addicted friend in Dallas without the hassle of shipping lemon bars or lime pie or any other nonsense that requires chilling.

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Ingredients (makes about 24 cookies)

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4 T unsalted butter, softened

3/4 cup sugar

1 egg white

1/4 cup lemon juice

zest of one lemon (optional)

1 1/3 cups  flour

1/2 t baking powder

1/4 t salt

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Cream the butter and sugar together.

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Add the egg white, lemon juice, and zest if using and mix well.

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Sift in the flour, baking powder, and salt.

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Fold the batter just until it comes together.

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Drop batter in scant tablespoons onto parchment lined cookie sheets. Bake for 8-10 minutes. The cookies will be very pale, especially if you ran out of fresh lemons before baking and therefore didn’t use any lemon zest.

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Passover Peanut Butter Cookies

I’ve made these cookies before. So even though I made an unprecedented change this year (less brown sugar) I wasn’t planning on posting them again. Then I got home from work today and found out just how much my husband loved them. Just how willing he was to try to find a way around the rule I made after he ate five whole cookies last night. Two cookies a day, I told him. A day starts at midnight, I added, in case he was prepared to eat infinite cookies in the night. (He was.)

If you have no interest in table top roleplaying,  or just can’t read his handwriting, that is a character sheet. Listing his cookie-eating abilities and their effects. There is a power which permits a great cookie devouring at the last instant of 11:59 PM.

He’s being rather ominous about what happens when he levels up. Which, given his level as written, is always and to infinity.

I ran out of brown sugar, which turned out to be a blessing. Replacing some of it with granulated sugar gave the cookies a little more cohesion. They spread less, and taste more like regular cookies, and less like molasses crossed with peanut butter fudge (also delicious. Just sayin’.).

Ingredients 

2 C peanut butter (I used Jif creamy, as usual. If you’re eschewing corn syrup for Passover or just generally, use a peanut butter without corn syrup.)

1 C packed dark brown sugar

1 C granulated sugar

1 1/2 t salt

2 eggs

1 T vanilla

Directions

Combine all ingredients in a bowl. Mix well. Bake at 350°F for 10-12 minutes, until the edges just begin to brown. Do not overbake.

As they contain no animal products of any kind, these cookies are kosher with any meal. Or if, you’re my peanut-butter obsessed husband, for breakfast. They are chewy. They are rich. They taste like regular, made-with-leaven, floury, delightful cookies only with more peanut flavor than you can get in a cookie diluted with flour. Which, five days into Passover, is really all we want. Well, that, and for people at work to stop eating whole pizzas in front of us.

Happy Passover!

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Peanut Butter Chocolate Cookies

Who doesn’t love chocolate and peanut butter? We all have those days when you run out of Reese’s cups and find yourself smearing peanut butter over a Hershey’s bar, right?

I mean, if that weren’t normal behavior I certainly wouldn’t be admitting to it.

But low-quality chocolate candy and overly sweetened peanut butter aren’t always going to cut it. Sometimes you’ve got to have cookies, homemade and piping hot. Thank goodness for this recipe from Picky Palate.

I took one look at the peanut butter-chocolate ratio and decided it was all wrong. Chocolate is great, sure, but I’d rather have just enough to add bitterness and complexity to the peanut butter, rather than drown out all that nutty goodness with a wave of cocoa. Even with the changes I made, I think next time I’ll amp up the peanut butter even more, but these cookies are delightful. They’re gooey and sweet and oh so chocolaty. Serve them hot with ice cream and you’ll swear you never need another dessert again. Until you start looking at recipes 20 minutes later, anyway.

Ingredients (makes about 3 dozen. Recipe adapted from Picky Palate.)

1 1/2 cups peanut butter

2 sticks/16 T butter

3/4 cup granulated sugar

1 1/2 cups brown sugar, divided use*

2 eggs

1 T vanilla

1 3/4 cups flour

1 t baking soda

1 t salt

1 cup cocoa powder

1 cup chocolate chips

1 cup peanut butter chips

4 Reese’s peanut butter cups (the original sized ones. One king-size pack, in other words.)

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Mix the 1 1/2 cups of peanut butter with 1/2 cup of brown sugar and put it in the freezer. Cream the butter and remaining sugar (3/4 cup granulated, 1 cup brown) together in a large bowl.

Mix in the eggs and vanilla.

Pour the flour, salt, leavening, and cocoa powder into a fine mesh sieve.

Sift all the dry ingredients into the dough.

Mix the dough well. It’s very chocolaty.

Chop the Reese’s cups into approximate 16ths.

Add the chocolate chips, peanut butter chips, and chopped Reese’s cups to the dough. Mix well.

Add the frozen peanut butter and brown sugar mixture in dollops.

Don’t use the mixer this time, just fold the peanut butter gently a few times with a spatula.

Line a couple of baking sheets with parchment paper. Place dollops (about 2 T each) of dough on the lined cookie sheets about 2 inches apart from each other. They’ll be sticky and misshapen. It’s okay. Lumpy cookies still taste nice.

Bake 15 minutes at 350°F, rotating the cookie sheets and switching their positions in the oven halfway through baking.

Let the cookies sit a few minutes before serving, or they will break in half and you will be obligated to eat the broken ones before anyone sees them. It’s in the rules. They are delightful on their own, with a few extra peanut butter chips for the peanut butter fiends in us all. . .

But they truly shine with a big scoop of ice cream. Even though I just used vanilla ice cream, it really brought out the peanut butter flavor and mellowed out the chocolate significantly. Plus, hot cookie+frozen ice cream=melted, gooey, tasty mess. One should eat all cookies this way.

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Peanut Butter Butterscotch Cookies: Gluten-Free Reprise

Cookies are going to be my downfall. With cakes and brownies, I know that a slice is a serving and I don’t go back for more. But cookies? There’s no such thing as just one cookie. I’ll head into the kitchen for a glass of water and find myself walking out with two cookies and a glass of milk. It’s not so good. These, unfortunately, were no exception. I made a batch of twenty-four and served them to a group of five one night.

We ate all of them over the course of a four-hour Star Wars RPG. I need to start freezing most of my dough and only baking small batches at a time.

I try to make gluten-free versions of my favorite dishes whenever I can. I know too many people who can’t or don’t eat gluten to ignore, and GF desserts are Passover friendly, too. But anything with peanut butter actually gets better when you cut out the flour. All flour does in a peanut butter cookie is damp down the peanut butter flavor. Which is all right, but sometimes one wants to be overwhelmed with unadulterated peanut butter and butterscotch, wreathed in a burnt toffee aroma. To make it happen, we simply combine two previous recipes, Peanut butter butterscotch cookies and gluten-free peanut butter cookies.

Mr. B has declared this combination his new favorite cookie. It is worth noting, though, that the Toll House brand butterscotch chips that I used the second time contain a warning that they may contain barley. They should not be considered gluten-free. The generic Kroger brand I used the first time was GF, therefore safe for the celiac friend. Check your ingredients carefully when cooking for folks who can’t eat gluten; it crops up in unexpected places.

Ingredients (makes 24, apparently only serves 5.)

1 1/4 cups peanut butter

1 cup melted butterscotch chips, plus 3/4 cup butterscotch chips for later

1 cup granulated sugar

1 cup brown sugar

1 1/2 t salt

1 T baking soda

2 eggs

1 T vanilla extract

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Mix the sugars, salt, and baking soda in a large bowl. Add the melted butterscotch and peanut butter and mix again.

Add eggs and vanilla and mix again. Stir in the butterscotch chips.

This next bit is kind of messy. Dump about 1/3 of a cup of granulated sugar into a bowl. As you make sticky two-tablespoon balls of cookie dough, roll them in the sugar. These cookies want to spread. They want to spread a lot. The sugar doesn’t really hold them together, but it keeps them from melting into pure toffee and gives them a lovely crackled surface.

Arrange the dough balls on two parchment lined baking sheets.

Bake for 8-10 minutes until the cookies are a deep golden brown and the kitchen smells of toffee.

Serve to hungry nerds. We can’t resist.

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Peanutbutterscotch Cookies. Peanut Butter and Butterscotch in One Sweet Cookie!

I have a bad habit of lusting after desserts I see on other blogs. In this case, these little darlings. And unfortunately, the only steps between seeing what I want and getting it are gathering a few ingredients and preheating the oven to 350°F. I made fewer changes than usual this time, and while they led to a tinner, crisper cookie with a chewy center, the original looks perfectly brilliant.

The only problem with these came from my co-workers. There’s a girl with gluten-intolerance, one allergic to peanuts, several on low-carb diets, and one who prefers not to eat refined sugar or gluten for some arcane reason. So I just had to eat four of them all by myself.

Ingredients (makes 30-36 cookies)

1 stick (8 T) butter

3/4 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1 1/4 cup peanut butter

1 3/4 cups butterscotch chips, divided

1 egg

1 T vanilla

1 1/4 cup flour

1/2 t baking soda

1/2 t baking powder

Directions

Preheat oven to 350°F. Measure out a cup of butterscotch chips and look how pretty they are.

Get Mr. B to melt them in the microwave because everything you’d normally use as a double boiler is in the broken dishwasher.

Cream butter and sugars together, then mix in the peanut butter and melted butterscotch.

Mix it up, then toss in the egg and vanilla.

Mix again, sift in the dry ingredients and mix well, then stir in the 3/4 cup of non-melted butterscotch chips.

Form into nice sticky balls of about 2 T each and arrange on parchment lined baking sheets.

Bake 15-18 minutes at 350°F. They spread nicely and turn crisp and crackly on the outside. If you like a fatter, chewier cookie I recommend you use the original recipe linked to above. I wanted them as similar in texture as possible to my usual peanut butter cookies, so some changes had to be made.

If you can eat peanut butter/wheat/carbs/butterscotch, give these a whirl as soon as is reasonable. They will knock your socks off.

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Ice Cream Sandwiches

I defy anyone to resist these. It’s almost midnight as I’m writing this, but after a tiring day at the renaissance fair (I know, my life is so hard, right?) in Texas heat all I wanted was to eat these. Not just one. A whole plateful. I was that hungry and that overheated. Unfortunately, as we’ve just discussed, my life is terribly difficult because instead of making another batch of these and scarfing them down, I had to go see Thor with my friends. Also, I should probably get to the food part instead of just admitting to a bunch of people on the Internet (not to mention my mother) that I’m an irredeemable geek. Sorry mom! For those of you who don’t live 1,262 miles from your mothers, these would be a great treat for mother’s day.  (No, seriously. I checked on Google Earth. 1,262 miles. It’s 1,270 to my dad’s house. That’s really, really far away.) For those of you who are mothers, but your kids are lame/far away/vegans, these are super easy to make and contain enough chocolate to cheer you up. (Psst, mom: Tell your other daughter to cook them. But I still get good kid points, okay?)  

Ingredients (makes 36 cookies, therefore 18 cookie sandwiches, but still about 2 dozen servings. I brought these to work and most people cut the sandwiches in half. I don’t blame them; these cookies are enormous.) For the cookies:

16 T (2 sticks, 1/2 pound) butter

1 cup brown sugar

3/4 cup granulated sugar

2 eggs

1 t vanilla extract

1/3 cup Nutella

1 cup cocoa powder*

1 3/4 cups flour

1 t baking powder

1 t baking soda

1/2 t salt

1/3 cup cocoa nibs or chocolate chips (optional)

For the cookie sandwiches:

1 quart ice cream

1/2 cup cocoa nibs, chocolate chips, or espresso beans (optional)

Directions Preheat the oven to 350°F. Cream the butter well, then add the sugars and mix them in. Add eggs, vanilla, and Nutella and mix again. Sift in cocoa powder, flour, baking powder and soda, and salt. I know it’s a lot of chocolate. That is a very good thing. Do not fight it. Mix everything well and stick the dough (which I did not take a picture of, sorry) in the fridge for ten or twenty minutes. This dough is incredibly sticky, and it’s much easier to manipulate when it’s chilled. Form the dough into about 2-tablespoon sized balls and arrange them on parchment lined baking sheets. I don’t always use parchment for cookies, but again, these guys are sticky. You probably want to line ’em up. I had fun squashing each dough ball with the heel of my palm, but I doubt it’s necessary. These cookies need no encouragement to spread nicely. Incidentally, Mr. B said the dough balls looked like cow patties. He added, in case I wasn’t sure, that they looked gross. He was surprised, for some reason, when I threatened not to share the poor insulted cookies with him. Don’t insult the cookies, okay? Bake at 350°F for 8-10 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through if you suspect, as I do, that your oven cooks unevenly. These develop lovely cracked surfaces, and I kind of wish I had dusted the dough balls with powdered sugar to enhance the effect. Just look how nice they are! Now we just need to turn these things: into sandwich form. First I froze the plate of cookies, to minimize melting of ice cream while I prepared things. Yes, I’m going to keep showing you cookie pictures. I can’t get over how pretty these cookies are. Scoop some ice cream into a bowl and mix with cocoa nibs or chocolate chips or whatever other textural filling you want to use. Sorry, I can’t bring myself to measure ice cream. Just use an amount. Plop a generous scoop (still not measuring) of ice-cream mixture onto a cookie, top with another cookie, and smoosh the two cookies together. Repeat until all of the cookies are sandwiched. I used raspberry sherbet for most of the sandwiches, but made a few coffee ones as well. The nibs add a delightful bitter crunch to the filling, but I understand that there are people out there who do not like cocoa nibs. The cookies need to be kept in the freezer (obviously) until you’re ready to serve. I made sure to freeze my serving plate as well, because they had to survive a 20 minute drive to work on a rather hot day. *Yes, this recipe calls for a whole cup of cocoa powder. I use Hershey’s special dark, because it’s both palatable and cheap. I won’t use regular Hershey’s cocoa powder, because it has a chalky aftertaste and believe me, when you’re using it in this quantity, you will notice it. I’ve used Valrhona before, and would do so consistently if it weren’t (a) expensive and (b) only available, as far as I know, at Sur La Table which is like a twenty-five minute drive from both work and home and I am really, really lazy. Plus, if I go into a Sur La Table for cocoa powder I will leave with a pile of other things I don’t actually need and my kitchen will officially explode from its inability to contain all the stuff I try to fit into its poor little cabinets. Also, if you want a comparison of cocoa powders, I recommend this here, which is way more put together and informative than anything I could ever do, even if I were willing to buy 17 different kinds of cocoa powder and consume them each in shot form. Which I am not.

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